Sunday, November 27, 2005

401k vs Roth IRA

I saw this and I know that this is a common question on those savings for retirement

Q: Should I max out my Roth IRA and put the remaining money in my 401(k) or max out my 401(k), leaving little if any for the Roth IRA?

My husband and I do this a little different than most. He saves in 401k, 11% and since I don't have access to a 401k, I save as much as I can in a Roth IRA. It kind of balances us off.

See what the professional say at USA Today

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Reverse Mortgages predator-type loans?

I often see Robert Wagner (of Hart to Hart TV series and Austin Powers) hawking Reverse Mortgages. They seem great... if you are over 62 years old, have your house start paying you through a reverse mortgage. Interesting concept but what are the cons. There is a good discussion (and banter) of the pitfalls of a reverse mortgage.

Reverse Mortgage forums

I don't think we would ever do a reverse mortgage and I think I would tell my parents the same.

Potential Budget Busters

This week could have been a total budget buster.

Tuesday our heater doesn't turn on at all. Nothing, zippo... Called the heating company that we deal with. They get a guy out there to fix it. It had something to do with our controller. Luckily we have the annual service agreement- no cost to us.

Today Hubby brings the car in for inspection. It fails. :( Tire Rod is not right. Hubby was a mechanic in a past life so he spent the day fixing that. Could have cost $200 or so if we had to bring it in to a repair shop. Brought it back to get inspected and it passed. He needs to bring it in for an alignment soon.

Two things that could have messed up my budget!!

Enjoy your savings.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Gift Card Certificate Tips

Gift Card Tips
For many gift givers, buying and giving a gift card is a no-brainer, but before you purchase a gift card for someone this holiday season – or if you receive one - there are things you should know.

Depending on where you buy a gift card, there will be different rules for where and how it can be used, and what fees apply.

For example, some stores' gift cards expire after a period of time, and other gift cards have a monthly fee that eats away at the gift card value if not used by a certain date.

Here are some of the most important terms and conditions of gift cards that you should check:

Expiration Dates: Some gift cards can expire after 12 to 24 months if not used, which means the gift card is worthless if not used by that date. About 18 states have passed laws banning or limiting expiration dates on gift cards, but even so, nationwide, the value of unredeemed gift cards totaled over $2 billion last year alone. Gift cards sold in some states cannot expire sooner than seven years, some states require full consumer disclosure by any retailer selling a gift card that expires and in other states, unredeemed gift cards are considered abandoned assets after three years and are turned over to the states unclaimed property departments.

Purchase or Issuance Fee: Some gift cards come with add-on fees that are charged when the gift card is issued. A fee of $5 to $10 can be added to the amount of the cost for the card's gift value. When a gift card includes a $10 issuance fee, then the fee is 20 percent of the actual gift value of a $50 gift card! Needless to say, gifts cards with issuance fees should be avoided.

Maintenance or Inactivity Fees: Some gift cards also charge a maintenance fee; for example, $2.50 per month is lopped off the card's value if the gift card is not redeemed after six months. Some gift cards even charge these monthly fees retroactively back to the date of purchase, which can quickly eat up all or most of the gift card's value if recipients do not redeem the card soon after they receive it. This is also one trick gift card providers use to get around laws in some states that prohibit expiration of gift cards.

Replacement Fee: Many gift cards will now allow you to register the card on their Web sites, allowing you to check the remaining balance and to request a new card to replace one that is lost or stolen. Other gift cards provide toll-free phone numbers to call to report a missing or stolen card.

When replacing a lost or stolen gift card, you will need to provide the tracking number and a copy of the original receipt, so record and keep the original receipt in a safe place. For some cards, the value will not be replaced if lost or stolen. Other gift cards may charge $10 to replace a lost or stolen gift card.

Other fees on gift cards can include transaction fees charged for a high number of smaller transactions and fees for balance inquiries.

Usage Limitations: Some gift cards can be used at any store location; others can be used only at stores that are affiliated with the merchant from whom the card was purchased.

You'll also want to know if the card has other limitations. Some may not be used for purchases in a catalogue or on the merchant’s Web site. Other limitations on gift cards might mean that you can't sell your card to another individual, apply the value as a payment to a store credit card account, or redeem the card for cash.

Bank Gift Cards Still Have High Fees. Bank-issued gift cards, unlike gift cards issued by retailers, can be redeemed at any store that accepts credit or debit cards. But the advantages of bank-issued gift cards end there. Consumer Reports states that, unlike gift cards issued by retailers which have become more consumer friendly, bank-issued gift cards typically charge hefty fees and remain a bad deal overall.

According to Consumer Reports, most bank-issued gift cards charge issuance fees, monthly maintenance fees and replacement fees. Expect to see some bank-issued gift cards getting better over time, particularly as they face legal action by states where their fees are in conflict with a state's gift-card law.

The bottom line: Check gift card fees before you buy. Those fees usually are posted on the gift card sleeve or on the Web site. Buy gift cards with no issuance fees, expiration dates or maintenance fees, which can easily be found with gift cards issued directly by retailers. And if you receive a gift card, use it promptly - not only to avoid possible maintenance fees and expiration, but also to take advantage of post-holiday discounts.

Source: CBS Early Show

My shop nothing day!

Aaah a peaceful Friday-The kids are home from school. They are still in PJs and we are getting into our annual watch Christmas special afternoon marathons. I have a turkey in the oven, I cook it because I love have turkey leftoves. I will make some mashed potatos, squash, green bean casserole and stuffing for sides.

I almost headed out to Walmart at 5am because my internet was down and I sort of wanted to spy on the world and do a social experiment. But my common sense got the better of me.

Today will be my buy nothing day. It is cold outside, I have an extra layer on me and the kids will have blankets around them as well.

Of course hot cocoa will be around too.

Enjoy your day...

Happy belated Thanksgiving!

Why it pays to live within my means

I was browsing the yahoo finance section and came across a good article Why it pays to live within your means. Laura Rowley provided her reasons but she touch based on a lot of my reason as well.

We are a 1.5 income family. I make decent money working on my websites and affiliate marketing but it in reality it couldn't support us. My husband's income is decent but we got 3 kids and are close to paycheck to paycheck. We don't use credit cards even though people outside my little online frugal world think we are weird.

My husband was talking to some co-workers what would happen if they got laid off. (It is a possibility in the near future) Most of them were in a total panic-one just finanaced a new motorcycle to help with his mid-life crisis, another one said he didn't have any room on his credit cards to charge life's expenses. Neither one had any savings outside of retirement.

My husband who isn't too involved with our day to day finances knows the big picture said he would probably panic but then come home and realize that I probably had it under control since we don't have any credit card debit and a small but ok emergency fund that probably would be fine with unemployment insurance. While not an ideal situation, it would not be the end of the world.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Your wallet and holiday spending

The best way to prepare for the holiday shopping onslaught: don't get swept up in the hype, despite the seasonal pressure to overspend.

"Think, what am I trying to accomplish by spending this money?" said James Kibler, certified financial planner at Eldridge Financial Planning, adding that your loved ones would rather get fewer gifts than see you in bankruptcy court.

Continue Reading

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

The cost of a Thanksgiving Dinner

According to the American Farm Bureau Federation, a traditional Thanksgiving dinner in 2005 which includes turkey, stuffing, cranberries, pumpkin pie and all the trimmings costs slightly more than in 2004. The AFBF's 20th annual informal survey of the price of basic Thanksgiving food items for ten people and found this year's the average cost is $36.78. That is a $1.10 price increase over last year's average of $35.68.

The shopping list for the survey includes enough turkey, stuffing, sweet potatoes, rolls with butter, peas, cranberries, a relish tray of carrots and celery, pumpkin pie with whipped cream and beverages of coffee and milk, to feed a family of 10 people.

According to the survey, the cost of a 16-pound turkey is $15.11 or approximately $0.94 a pound. This is an increase of $0.05 per pound, or a total of $0.88 per turkey compared to 2004.

“To the extent there was a small increase in the nominal cost of the Thanksgiving dinner, up 3 percent from 2004, most of it can be attributed to higher energy prices which affect processing, packaging, refrigeration and shipping costs,” said AFBF Senior Economist Terry Francl. “Farm Bureau volunteer shoppers are asked to look for the best possible prices, without taking advantage of special promotional coupons or purchase deals, such as spend $50 and receive a free turkey. The average price of turkey remains less than a dollar per pound again this year, an amazing value any way you slice it,” said Francl.

Data available from the Agriculture Department on last year's whole, frozen turkey indicates that four out of every five turkeys sold were discounted as a "holiday special." Based on those advertised specials, USDA found that the prices paid for whole, frozen turkeys in November 2004 were two-thirds the price of what consumers paid for the same turkeys during the other 11 months of the year. That means many consumers probably purchase Thanksgiving turkeys for far less than the AFBF survey's average.

Other Thanksgiving table items showing a slight price increase this year included: a gallon of whole milk at $3.09; a 30-oz. can of pumpkin pie mix at $1.86; a 16-oz. package of frozen green peas at $1.38; a 12-oz. package of cubed stuffing at $2.27; two 9-inch pie shells at $1.89; and a 12-oz. package of brown-n-serve rolls at $1.64. The price of a combined pound of celery and carrots, used for a relish tray, increased to $0.59.

Thanksgiving table items that decreased slightly in price this year were: sweet potatoes at $2.56 for three pounds; fresh cranberries at $1.84 for a 12-oz. package; and a half-pint of whipping cream at $1.51.

A combined group of miscellaneous items, including coffee and ingredients necessary to prepare the meal (onions, eggs, sugar, flour, evaporated milk and butter), increased by 14 cents to $3.04.

Francl said throughout the years, Americans have enjoyed very stable food costs. “The inflation-adjusted cost of a Thanksgiving dinner has hovered within a few cents of $20 for the past 15 years. This is indicative of the continued ability of American farmers to provide safe and wholesome food products in a very efficient and cost-effective manner,” he said.

The AFBF survey was first conducted in 1986 when the average cost of a Thanksgiving meal for a family of 10 was $28.74. This year’s actual cost of $36.78 is $19.04 in 1986 inflation-adjusted dollars. A total of 108 volunteer shoppers from 30 states participated in this year's survey. Farm Bureau's survey menu has remained unchanged since 1986 to allow for consistent price comparisons.


Monday, November 21, 2005

Woo hoo free bread

I got an email from an women in my mom group who gets the leftovers in bread from Pannera bread that there were a ton of extras this week. I got a ton of bagels, and some other funky bread. She gets it every Sunday, I don't know if I will go over Monday to get but every few weeks might be okay.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Frugal Dinner Planning Week of Nov 20th

I had been so bad about planning dinners for the last few weeks. DH was out of town and has been working until 8 or 9pm nights at the office and they usually bring something in there.
So lots of sandwiches for the kids. And yes take out a few as well.

Sun Probably out We are going to see Harry Potter today with all the kids. An expensive day but we are a huge Harry Potter family. We have been watching the movies all weekend to get into the grove. DH and my oldest have been reading the 4th book together for the past few months.

Mon Chicken Stragnoff in the crock pot

Tues Mini Pork Sirlon

Wed Leftover chicken stragnoff

Thurs Turkey dinner at my sister in laws

Fri Turkey dinner with all the fixings at home. I got two 11lb birds in the freezer. Got a good deal for 38 cents at the supermarket. Will freeze the leftovers-make some of the different turkey leftsovers I have been posting.

Sat Turkey leftovers

Enjoy your savings!

Monday, November 14, 2005

How to cook a Turkey

As Thanksgiving approaches and you begin to prepare for your Thanksgiving turkey dinner you may be having questions about how much turkey you need per person. Or how long does it take to thaw a frozen turkey? Finally is the all important how long do I need to roast my turkey. Here are three guides to follow to help you achieve your perfect Thanksgiving turkey.

Turkey Serving Guide - How much turkey to serve per person

When planning your Thanksgiving turkey dinner it can be overwhelming wondering how much to serve per person. You will want to have enough for each person to have at least two servings and enough for turkey leftovers.

Up to 12lbs. = 1lb. per person
Over 12lbs. = 3/4lb. per person
Bone in breast = 1/2lb. per person
Boneless breast or role = 1/3lb. per person

Turkey Thawing Guide

Refrigerator thawing is the recommended method for thawing turkey. It used to be comon practice to thaw turkey in the sink with cold water. The problem with this method is that bacteria can grow on the turkey while it is thawing. This is the reason that refigerator thawing is recommended.

6 to 8lbs. = 1 to 1 ¾ days
8 to 12lbs. = 1 to 2 days
12 to 16lbs. = 2 to 3 days
16 to 20lbs. = 3 to 4 days
Bone and breast = 1 to 2 days
Boneless breast roll = 1 ½ to 2 days

Turkey Roasting Guide

Pre-heated 325° oven.
6 to 8lbs. = 2 ¼ to 3 ¼ hours
8 to 12lbs. = 3 to 4 hours
12 to 16lbs. = 3 ½ to 4 ½ hours
16 to 20lbs. = 4 to 5 hours
Bone and breast = 1 ½ to 2 ¼ hours
Boneless breast roll = 1 ¾ to 2 ½ hours

Shauna Hanus is a gourmet cook who specializes in creating gourmet recipes. She has extensive experience cooking with easy to find grocery items to create delightful gourmet meals. She has put together a special Thanksgiving report that gives you 73 recipes to use with your leftover turkey as well as a special holiday ice cream cookbook that includes favorites like pumpkin pie ice cream and pecan pie ice cream. She has also put together a holiday planning guide to help you have the most enjoyable Thanksgiving ever. You can find all of these at

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Freezing Thanksgiving Leftover

When Thanksgiving is over and all your company has gone home what do you do with all those turkey leftovers? Why not try freezing them. By freezing your turkey leftovers you will be able to enjoy fresh roasted turkey months from now when Thanksgiving and turkey leftovers are a thing of the past.

Freezing turkey leftovers is an easy and inexpensive way you can extend the life of your turkey leftovers by a few months. Turkey leftovers can be frozen up to three months with great results. Here are a few quick tips to make your freezing a success.

• Freeze turkey in portions your family will use.
• Slice, cube and chop the turkey meat for easy packaging.
• Use zipper freezer bags for ease of storage.
• Freeze turkey with stock and vegetables for making quick stew.
• Stir fry turkey with vegetables and freeze then when ready to use thaw and serve over cooked rice.
• Freeze pre-made turkey sandwiches, turkey quiche and turkey casseroles.
• Frozen turkey sandwiches can be sent in lunches for work or school.

If you only have a small amount of turkey leftover, freeze in bite size pieces. Then the next time you have leftovers you can pull out the frozen turkey leftovers and add it to casseroles or pot pie.

Shauna Hanus is a gourmet cook who specializes in creating gourmet recipes. She has extensive experience cooking with easy to find grocery items to create delightful gourmet meals. She has put together a special Thanksgiving report that gives you 73 recipes to use with your leftover turkey as well as a special holiday ice cream cookbook that includes favorites like pumpkin pie ice cream and pecan pie ice cream. She has also put together a holiday planning guide to help you have the most enjoyable Thanksgiving ever. You can find all of these at

Friday, November 11, 2005

Crockpot recipes for Turkey leftovers

The age-old question of ‘what to do with this left-over turkey’ lives on today, but with the revival of the slow cooker, we now have more options for stretching our food dollars by creating some delicious crock pot turkey recipes.

Today’s turkey crock pot recipes are creative and fun to cook, and should be taken advantage of throughout the year, not just during the holiday season. Gather your ingredients, plop em’ in your crock pot in the morning before you leave for work, and when you arrive home in the evening your meal is waiting, and your home smells fantastic! Using leftover frozen turkey makes meal prep even easier. Here are some Turkey Crock Pot Recipes that your family will love.

Crock Pot Turkey Stew

1 large bag of frozen mixed veggies
2 lbs boneless, skinless turkey, cut into bite size pieces
2 tbl flour
1 cup chicken broth
1-1/2 tbl tomato paste
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
Salt and pepper to taste

Place veggies and turkey into crock pot. Mix flour, broth, tomato paste, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper in a bowl and then add to crock pot. Cover and cook on LOW setting for approximately 8 hours. During the last hour, stir once or twice, breaking apart any turkey that has stuck together. Be careful not to remove the lid for more than a minute or so. Stir in parsley just before serving.

Crock Pot Turkey Sandwiches

6 c. shredded turkey
3 c. shredded cheese
1/2 c. Miracle Whip
1 onion, chopped
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 can cream of chicken soup

Mix everything together and cook in crock pot for 4 hours. Stir twice during cooking, remembering not to have the top off very long. If the mixture is really thick, add some hot water at end of cooking. Serve on hoagie buns.

About the author: Sherry Frewerd publishes ‘Family Crock Pot Recipes’. Visit today for delicious crock pot recipes that your family will love – Sherry’s blog, ‘Recipes to Live By’ is the place to go for great recipes of all kinds, cooking tips and interesting articles on food and nutrition.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Save money on your phone bill

One of people's largest utility bills is their phone bill. Between taxes, long distance calls etc bills end up about $60 to $80 a month.

If you have high speed internet access, you get VoIP for $19.99 a month. There are many companies out that do voip now- but Packet 8 and Vonage are two of the most favored one.

They do have enchanced 911, you can use your own home phone with an adapter.

Check it out!

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Frugal Christmas Ideas

Here are some great resources and articles on how to saving money and not occur any more debt during the Holiday season.

25 festive gift wrapping ideas

Recycling Christmas cards

Quick tips to save money at Christmas

Homemade Leather Wallet

Homemade Candle

Frugal Christmas Gifts

Free Silver Jewelry Great deals and it is pretty nice stuff!

Christmas Gifts in a Jar Mixes Breads, cookies

Gift Basket ideas Different themes for all walk of life.

Restaurant gift cards 50% off

How to avoid Christmas card debt

Homemade Christmas Ornaments

Frugal Holiday decorating

How to save money by buying discount gift cards

Enjoy your savings!

How to avoid Christmas Debt

In this week's issue Living on a Budget in a Non Budget World
Money Saving Tips
Featured Article How to avoid Christmas Debt
Money Blog Spotlight
Top Conversations on the Money Saving Forums
Freebie and Contest Alerts
The Frugal Five
Cheap but Good Food Nacho Stuffed Shells

Read this issue at: